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Community Interest

Calling for Bolton Fair exhibitors!

From prize-winning produce to amazing pictures, quilts, and other specialty items, the Bolton Fair is calling for exhibitors. Here’s a message to the community from the Bolton Fair Exhibits Director Brenda Hoseason:

Brenda: Hello friends and neighbors! This year will mark the 139th Bolton Fair. One of the oldest traditions of the fair, along with the animals, is the Exhibit Hall. This is where local folks brought their food, flowers, baked goods, art, and sewing to be exhibited and judged for a small money prize. We still honor this tradition today at our small agricultural community event. Things have not changed too much in over a hundred plus years in the Exhibit area. We have added lots more categories to reflect the change in hobbies and interests.

I bet if you checked out this year’s exhibit guide on www.boltonfair.org you would find something for everyone! Why not gather yourself and/or your family and pick a few things that interest you? Bring those items to the Lancaster Fairgrounds on Thursday, August 11th between 3 and 8 pm to enter your creation. It’s free and fun! We will leave your items on display all weekend for other fairgoers to enjoy. Read all rules and regs on the Exhibit hall pdf.

The fair is run entirely by a few volunteers and this year I could use some help to register the exhibits in the Exhibit Tent. If you are available for a few hours on Thursday, August 11th I need you! It’s an easy and fun job for individuals, a few friends, or make it a date night with your spouse! Any adults or high schoolers are welcome. Come get together and share some time with a few neighbors or make a new friend! Please contact me at pohbac@comcast.net for more info. Thanks so much and we will see you at the Fair!

Brenda Hoseason, Bolton Fair Exhibits Director.

Electric cars: charging ahead

Wouldn’t it be nice to bypass the gas stations, pull into your driveway, plug in your car, and have it ready each morning with a full charge? Better yet, what if solar panels on your roof were there to provide energy? 

With recent gas prices, an increasing number of Americans and people around the globe are re-thinking electric vehicles (EVs). If you own a hybrid car — even if it doesn’t plug in — you may have heard the trade-in value is exceptionally high. If you’re looking to buy a hybrid or electric vehicle, you may be on a waiting list. That’s because EVs not only save money on gas, but also get good driving reviews. All-electric vehicles typically require less regular maintenance according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

What’s it like to own one? And do solar panels really charge a car or two? We heard from a couple of local EV owners who outlined their experiences. We also heard about the upcoming  2022 Auto Innovation Show being held in Lancaster on July 20th. Here’s a look at what organizers have to say and how EVs are working for local residents. 

A hybrid Prius Prime charges from a regular electric outlet. Hybrid plug-in vehicles like this run on an electric battery and switch to gas automatically when the electric charge is used. The driving experience is comparable to regular gas engine-powered cars.

The Plug-in EV experience

“I bought two used EVs—a Ford CMax and a Chevy Volt—which get 45 miles on a charge and each cost less than $20,000 and are great cars,” says Lancaster resident Natascha Finnerty.  “My work has EV charging, so I am commuting from Lancaster to Cambridge guilt-free!” 

Finnerty is president of the Lancaster-based non-profit organization Nashoba Valley Climate Coalition (NVCC), which has the mission of reducing greenhouse gasses. The organization lobbies to create green energy policies, boosts awareness through events and partnerships, and encourages residents to do what they can to reduce energy use in the home, at work, and while in transit. Changes that reduce energy use can help the environment and the pocketbook. “I am going to start carpooling with a friend soon, since I do not need to use gas so I can help her save money,” adds Finnerty.

Finnerty’s 2017 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid (pictured in front) is similar to other cars, but it gets about 50 miles on a single charge (range varies depending on the model, life of the battery, and driving conditions). Hybrids like this have a gas engine as a backup. Many newer models have a greater range on a single charge.

We have had a plug-in hybrid (Chevy Volt) since 2017,” notes Stow resident Rick Lent, who is a member of Sustainable Stow and is part of the leadership team of a local chapter of Elders Climate Action. Both organizations are committed to improving the environment. Lent emphasizes the practicality of EVs. 

“The battery lets you drive about 50 miles before it switches over to the gas engine,” says Lent. “We find that we do almost all of our driving on that battery and only need the gas engine on long drives.  About 90% of our driving is within that 60-mile range. I can even make it to Cambridge/Alewife. We have solar on our roof and so that can give us the energy we need to charge. However, we often charge at night so we aren’t using that source then.”

Even if you use most of your electricity at night, some power companies, including National Grid, offer solar net metering, which allows you to ‘export’ energy if you have a surplus. For instance, if your panels are generating a lot of energy during the day, but you use most of your energy at night, the amount you use at night is subtracted from what you’ve made during the day.  The National Grid net metering program results in a credit on your bill when you generate more than you use. This can dramatically reduce or eliminate your electricity bill. 

Not all power companies offer net metering. Lent, who lives in Stow, is part of Hudson Light and Power, which offers a solar rebate program instead. “Hudson Light credits our bill, which is low to begin with. I’ve had solar panels on my house in Stow since about 2014.”

Solar use apps allow you to track the amount the solar panels generate and compare that to how much you are using each day. Depending on how many panels you have, there is often an excess which can then be sold back to your electricity company, even if you’re charging an electric vehicle or two. 

If you have enough sun hitting your roof, a solar company can check your average energy bill to determine how many solar panels it will take to supply that amount of energy. There are various state and federal programs to reduce the cost of solar. There are also programs that encourage the purchase and use of battery storage systems that can help the power companies during peak summer use by having individuals or companies send in excess power being generated. These can also replace generators often used during storms when the power is out. 

When it comes to charging an EV at home, it’s simple. The existing outlets in your garage or house are enough to charge EVs. Special chargers are also available for speed charging. Similar to solar panels, there have been tax incentives to buy electric vehicles. In some cases, these include taking $7,500 tax credit and more incentives from the state, shaving the purchase price. 

Do EVs make a difference?

Some claim that EVs use electricity, which has to be generated from fossil fuels. It’s been a concern, but studies have shown that even if you don’t have a solar roof, EVs still come out ahead—leading to an overall reduction in greenhouse gas release. That’s because increasingly electricity is being generated by renewable sources. A recent article in Forbes helped break down the numbers. It focuses on a new study that shows that EVs help reduce greenhouse gasses in all but the most coal-reliant countries. That’s because most countries have diversified their energy production to include renewable energy sources. That applies locally as well. 

“I power my EV with solar, but if your house cannot support solar, people have the option to buy from community solar, and many towns are starting to offer 100% green energy in their town aggregation plans,” adds Finnerty.  

Local EVs in the spotlight

If you’d like to learn about EVs from local residents, the upcoming 2022 Auto Innovation Show, held in collaboration with NVCC, will feature a number of EVs—both hybrids that use both electricity and gas and the more fully electric vehicles. The show is being held Wednesday, July 20 at Kimball Farms Lancaster from 4:30 pm to 7 pm. If you drive in an EV or electric plug-in hybrid, you can enter a drawing for a $25 gift card. 

The shows can be helpful to those thinking about buying an EV because average residents who have used them—and aren’t trying to sell cars—are there to answer practical questions. During a past show, the conversations expanded to include electric lawnmowers, snow blowers, and what to think about when installing solar panels. 

Overall, the 2022 Auto Innovation Show gives you a chance to get under the hood of electric cars and ask questions from average motorists who have used them. “Once you drive an EV, even if it’s a hybrid, I don’t think you can go back to a gas-powered car,” adds Lent. “Our next car will be all-electric.”

Please comment below if you’d like more information. Allow time for us to ask the experts for a reply. Thanks!